Start-ups are usually a cacophony of ambition, excitement, PowerPoint presentations and beginner’s mistakes. You never know when a budding company is going to be the next big thing or the next big flop.
Sometimes, amid the chaos, as the brand is rising to stardom, someone gets left behind. Someone who helped build the company, create the brand, or is part of the brand’s iconic image, but missed out on the millions those brands went on to make.
Here are 10 big brands and the stories of the people who sold out, got pushed out or just plain lost out.
By Cindy Perman & Jackson Kim
Posted 1 April 2011
Eduardo Saverin was one of the co-founders of Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg while the two were at Harvard.
Saverin was the business manager and CFO of the company, and invested some of the first seed money in the company. At one time, he had a 30 percent stake in the company, but after choosing to not move to California and having a falling - out with Zuckerberg, his share was cut. After a 2009 settlement with the company, Facebook gave him what is thought to be a 5 percent stake in the company and acknowledge him on Facebook.com as one of the co-founders.
He’s now a venture capitalist living in Singapore. On his Facebook page,he lists his web site as simply Facebook.com.
Carolyn Davidson created the Nike “swoosh,” one of the most recognizable logos in the world, in 1971 while she was a graphic design student at Portland State University.
Phil Knight, an assistant professor at PSU, was working on a new line of running shoes with his former track coach from the University of Oregon. They called their company Blue Ribbon Sports, which would later become Nike (named for the Greek goddess of victory). They hired Davidson as a freelance artist to create the logo. At her rate of $2 an hour, she submitted a bill for $35 for the now-iconic logo.
In 1983, Knight is said to have given Davidson a diamond Nike swoosh ring and some Nike stock as additional compensation. Today, the company is worth more than $36 billion.
Most people know the name Steve Jobs (the founder and CEO of Apple) , and some even know the name Steve Wozniak, one of his co-founders. But most of us have no idea who Ron Wayne is. Yet Ron Wayne actually co-founded Apple with Jobs and Wozniak, and thanks to one bad decision, he now lives off of his Social Security check, while the other two are billionaires.
Wayne had met Jobs while the two worked at video game maker Atari. When they founded Apple, Jobs and Wozniak were the tech minds who created the first Macintosh computer, while Wayne handled the business side of the company. He was given a 10 percent stake in the company, while the Steves each got 45 percent, the idea being that if the Steves had a dispute, Wayne would be the deciding vote.
If he had kept that 10 percent stake, today it would be worth more than $32 billion. Instead, he sold it for $800. He had already gotten into some debt after trying to launch a slot machine company, and was gun - shy about losing money on another start-up.
The Chicago Bears football team was started in 1919 by a man named A.E. Staley.
Staley ran a corn-processing plant in Decatur, Ill. Looking to improve morale among his workers, he decided to start a football team, called the Decatur Staleys. He hired George Halas, a former college football player, to run the team.
In 1921, with the country in a recession after World War I, Staley decided he could no longer afford to subsidize the team. So, he not only gave the team to Halas, he also gave him uniforms and $5,000 in start-up money to help him relocate the team to Chicago. Halas changed the name to the Chicago Bears in 1922 as a nod to the Chicago Cubs and the fact that football players tend to be bigger than baseball players.
The team’s mascot to this day is “Staley Da Bear,” a small consolation, given that the team is worth an estimated $1.1 billion dollars, according to Forbes' annual NFL franchise valuations.
Charles Dolan was an entrepreneur and trailblazer from the get-go. He started out packaging, marketing and distributing films and would go on to found cable TV provider Cablevision.
But, there’s one that got away: A little cable channel you might have heard of, called HBO.
He created the premium channel , but it struggled in the beginning. So he sold it to Time Life in 1973 for an undisclosed amount. Today, the channel, which features hit shows such as “Entourage” (pictured left) and “Boardwalk Empire,” has 28 million subscribers who pay a minimum of $14.95 a month for the basic package.
But don’t feel too bad for him: Cablevision is one of the largest cable providers in the United States, and Dolan and his family are worth more than $3 billion, according to Forbes’ billionaires list.
The story of Pepsi is yet another lesson to learn about navigating a business through a recession and risk management.
Caleb Bradham invented the formula for “Brad’s Drink,” a mix of carbonated water, sugar, pepsin, kola nut extract, vanilla and “rare oils,” in 1893. He renamed it Pepsi-Cola in 1898 and launched the Pepsi-Cola company in 1902. His business was chugging along , but then came World War I and a spike in sugar prices. He made a bet that sugar prices would continue to rise but instead they retreated and Bradham had to file for bankruptcy in 1923.
Craven Holding Corporation bought his assets for the fire-sale price of $30,000. Today, soft-drink giant Pepsico Inc. is worth more than $100 billion.
Maxwell Charles Gaines was a comic-book pioneer and co-publisher of All-American Publications, which published titles such as “Green Lantern” and “Wonder Woman.”
After a rocky relationship with the other owners, they bought him out and he went on to found another company called “Educational Comics.” He was killed in a freak boating accident in 1947 , and his son, William Maxwell Gaines inherited the company.
The company did well under William, who shifted the focus to the horror genre and changed the name to “Entertainment Comics.” But a backlash against the horror genre linking it to delinquent behavior killed a lot of the horror titles.
But don’t scream in horror just yet. After all the ups, downs and KABLAMS! in this story, there’s an amusing ending: The one title that survived the horror was a humor comic called “Mad,” which would go on to become “Mad” magazine.
Jerry West is “one of the greatest guards in NBA history , ” and during his 14-year career with the L.A. Lakers, his name became “synonymous with brilliant basketball,” according to his NBA.com bio.
Neither he nor the NBA will admit that he’s the silhouette on the NBA logo, but Alan Siegel, who designed the logo in 1969 using a Wen Roberts photo of West, told the L.A. Times point blank: “It’s Jerry West.”
West made a lot of money as a player and later a coach and manager for NBA teams, but never made a dime off of that logo.
Cartoon characters in advertising tend to resonate with kids , but in the case of Planters’ monocled spokesnut, “Mr. Peanut,” it goes one better – it was invented by a kid.
Planters held a contest to design a mascot for the company in 1916 . T he winning design came from teenager Antonio Gentile.
And his grand-prize winnings totaled – drumroll please – FIVE BUCKS!
Today, Planters’ is owned by Kraft Foods and its annual revenue is estimated at more than $100 million.
The Volkswagen Beetle, a car whose cuteness precedes it, was actually the brainchild of a historic figure who is arguably the polar opposite of cute — Adolf Hitler.
Apparently, Hitler came up with the idea for a “volkswagen,” meaning “the car of the people,” so that many people in Germany, not just a rich few, could have cars. It was designed by Ferdinand Porsche. Production started in 1938.
Hitler never made any money off of his idea and today, Volkswagen is worth more than $30 billion.